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Jan 7, 2013 6:21 PM by Chris Welty

Violence Shelters Bracing for Cuts

Governor Bobby Jindal is coming under fire for cutting the budgets of battered women's shelters.

Funding for family violence prevention and intervention programs was cut by nearly one-million-dollars--that's a 16-percent reduction. The goal is to try and close a 166-million dollar mid-year budget deficit. The Jindal administration says the state was moving away from costly residential care for domestic violence victims in favor of short-term hotel stays and family care.

By July, shelters will have to cut more than 123,000 dollars from their budget. This year, one Acadiana shelter will not be able to help as many women.

Keija Bryant is a domestic violence survivor. She was in an abusive relationship and wishes she had known about programs like Faith House.

"To know that they are in place now and they might get taken away, it's very upsetting. For some people, that's all they have to rely on," said Bryant.

Faith House Program Director, Crystal Scrantz says they are now forced to rely on less. Scrantz says the news came as a surprise when she received a phone call from the Governor's office last week.

"They basically told us don't try to contact anyone, there is nothing you can do about it. This is what's going to happen."

On a normal month, the shelter is full and houses about 45 women and children.
Just last month, they had to turn six people away, and that's before budget cuts.

Fewer employees means fewer people will receive help.

"We are going to have to cut two staff members completely out, two staff members will be reduced to part-time from full-time and we're going to cut operational expenses."

More than 550 women and children lived at Faith House last year. Outside the shelter, 809 women and 414 children were helped in the non-resident programs.

The budget cuts to domestic violence programs affects 18 providers and the Louisiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Crystal Scrantz says so far no formal protests are organized, but they are keeping their options open to rally to try and get funds reinstated.

Chris Welty
cwelty@katctv.com

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